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I was welcomed by Nina E. Schönefeld in her studio in Prenzlauer Berg. My eyes were immediately
drawn to her sculptures. Her studio was full of sculptures she had made of old electronics, tiny TVs
and old radios. There were also costumes that actors had worn in her video work, that looked like
something you could wear in a dystopian society but also something you could see in a fashion
magazine. I sat down on a small grey couch that had a sheep’s fleece draped over it. Nina sat on a
stool beside me. As she talked, she moved her hands and the gold bracelets she wore would
musically hit against each other. In Nina’s work, her protagonists are often women and are often
dealing with the aftermath of climate change. My first question was if she sees women as leading
the fight to save our planet.

“My main themes are often linked to our current political situations. In the scenes of the movies, I
deal with political activists, also with outcasts, preppers, hackers and maybe with people from the
secret service. That is a very male-dominated world and for me, I sometimes thought, ‘why is it so
male dominated? Why can’t I take women as heroines for the movies? And I think that normally, the
normal life (women) lead, we take on a job. We have families and so we are all bound to structures,
and I think that is especially (true) for the woman. If you have kids, then you can’t really lead that life
(of freedom). Still there are a lot of men that do, and so, why can’t we (women) do it? I think that is
also to do with, especially in Germany, I would say that a lot of women underestimate themselves
still. That’s why I admire a lot of my New York friends, people who are all kind of tough
businesswomen, and they deal with both, like families and traveling the world, whatever. In
Germany, it is still that sometimes the woman is from the start they say I can’t…they think they can’t
do it. That’s why I chose my female characters, because I think it’s motivating to women to think
that it is possible, that why not? I can do. You can already see it now, that there are a lot of great
young women changing the world like Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai and Yara Shahidi.”

My next question was about if she saw her films as an encouragement to women to be more active
in roles in our society and political movements.
“Yeah, totally. I think it’s very encouraging for women. I think they also like it a lot but it’s also kind
of interesting that a lot of men like the videos. The thing is, I try to tell stories with the movies. My
first movies were more like collages. And then I thought, as fine artists, why can’t we take on
stories? Like an ongoing Netflix series for example that is more open than how a normal Netflix
series would develop with an ending at some stage. This is more severe. It’s more about the main
political approach, to have female characters who are leading a normal life and then there’s an
extreme political change and an extreme personal impact.”

Rose Merriman's photos of Nina Schonefeld's studio, in Prenzlauer Berg, Berlin.



We went on to discuss Dark Waters, the work that is featured in Momentum Worldwide’s exhibition,
“In the introduction of the movie, it says that all the seas are contaminated with poison so there are
no living beings in the seas. The only species that exists is jellyfish. That is a bit extreme. It is a sci-fi
movie, of course. There is a woman who is a helicopter pilot. The helicopter pilot finds out that her
little sister has disappeared out of the blue. The little sister was always fighting for nature and
against polluting the seas. And then the pilot begins to realise what is important. She has lost her
sister. Everything is polluted and she works for the bad guys… Black Cloud. That’s the evil
organisation. She decides to leave everything, her normal life, to try and rescue her sister. It’s a story
but it’s also not like a normal movie. The ending is open… I always try to make it real, that it’s
possible to save the planet.”

Even though her videos are often dealing with the aftermath of environmental disaster, Nina wants
there to be always a feeling of hope in her work; “I had a discussion with the curator at the
Berlinische Galerie when I had this exhibition there. She was writing “post-apocalyptic movies,” I
said that I like “post-apocalyptic,” but you also must implement the positivity of my approach. I still
think that it is possible (to save the environment), especially when you start to fight. You also want
to have this thought that everyday is a new day. I can start now, and it will make an impact and
maybe we can change it still. That is very important. That’s why I also love those girls like Greta
Thunberg and all these people. Maybe that is a female characteristic, to not let go and to be


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